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New Left Review I/194, July-August 1992


Ted Benton

Ecology, Socialism and the Mastery of Nature: A Reply to Reiner Grundmann

Reiner Grundmann’s ‘The Ecological Challenge to Marxism’ [1] nlr 187, May–June 1991, pp. 103–20. Subsequent references appear in parenthesis in the text. is very much to be welcomed as a well-argued and challenging contribution to a debate that is clearly quite central for the Left today. I think it is especially valuable for its defence of the metaphor of ‘domination’ or ‘mastery’ over nature, as a feature positively to be preserved in an ecologically informed socialism. As I shall try to make clear, I think Grundmann is wrong about this, but, at the same time, his argument cuts through a lot of sloppy thinking in the ‘ecocentric’ camp, and makes some useful conceptual clarifications. Since Grundmann refers extensively to my own ‘Marxism and Natural Limits’, [2] nlr 178, November–December 1989, pp. 51–86. Subsequent references appear in parenthesis in the text. I hope I will be forgiven for commenting on Grundmann’s contribution partly in the form of a reply to his criticisms.

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